Friday, January 08, 2010

Joe Lieberman: A case study in how to piss people off

Joe Lieberman, as you know, has been at the center of the health-care debate in Congress. And why? Well, because he held out and held the process hostage with a vote the Democrats needed to win over. Along with Ben Nelson, he gave Democrats -- 57 of whom, along with independent Bernie Sanders, were already on board -- the 60 votes they needed to override the Republican filibuster.

Lieberman succeeded in forcing the bill to be watered down, but it was never clear what he was actually for. Rather, he just seemed to be against whatever his former party was for until, at long last, the bill stripped of the public option and with the Medicare buy-in idea killed, the latter of which he had been in favour of as recently as last summer, he got off his high horse of self-righteousness and voted with the decisive majority.

Lieberman may see himself as someone who is above partisan politics and who is committed to centrist principles, but he is really a man of vindictiveness and retribution. Republicans like him when he's a thorn in Democrats' sides and Democrats enable him to keep doing what he's doing by refusing to cut him loose, and he's still a favourite of the Beltway media, but what he has succeeded in doing, in being against reform until he was finally for it, is alienating and pissing off his own constituency in Connecticut.

As HuffPo's Sam Stein is reporting, a new poll shows Lieberman losing support across the board in his home state:

More than 80 percent (81 percent) of Democrats now say they disapprove of the job Lieberman is doing with only 14 percent approving. Among Republicans, 48 percent disapprove of the senator with just 39 approving. And among independents, 61 percent disapprove of Lieberman's antics with just 32 percent approving.

"It all adds up to a 25% approval rating with 67% of his constituents giving him bad marks," the study concludes. "Barack Obama's approval rating with Connecticut Republicans is higher than Lieberman's with the state's Democrats."

Lieberman, undoubtedly, will interpret the results as a vindication of his maverick nature -- yet another example of just how unwilling he is to tie himself to any particular ideological camp. In actuality, it seems to be more a reflection of just how out of touch the senator has grown with the constituents he represents.

I think that's exactly right, but, of course, Lieberman will take none of it to heart. We'll see what happens in 2012, when he's up for re-election -- will he run? if so, what party? or would he remain an independent? -- but it's good to know that the people of Connecticut see right through him.

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